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House of Commons Hansard #31 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was copyright.

Topics

Copyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

10:55 a.m.

Liberal

Geoff Regan Liberal Halifax West, NS

Madam Speaker, I rise on a point of order. The minister has talked about heckling when, in fact, he himself was heckling earlier this morning. It is very inappropriate for him to be talking about it. He is in no position to cast aspersions in this fashion.

Copyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

10:55 a.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

Order, please. I would agree there has been heckling on both sides of the House and I would ask all members to maintain decorum, so that this debate can proceed in the way Canadians expect members to debate.

The hon. minister's time has almost elapsed. He has 30 seconds to conclude.

Copyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

10:55 a.m.

Conservative

James Moore Conservative Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam, BC

Madam Speaker, let us go back to serious leaders of the Liberal Party of past times. It was John Manley who said, “The government has struck an appropriate balance with this legislation about the rights of Canadian creators and the needs of consumers. The government is providing badly needed protection to Canadians who create music, films, games and digital works. This bill also recognizes the legitimate rights of Canadian families, schools and libraries to make use of copyrighted materials. To protect jobs and enhance Canada's ability to compete, this legislation goes in the right direction”. That is what serious Liberals think of this legislation, and we are happy to have—

Copyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

10:55 a.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

Questions and comments, the hon. member for Timmins—James Bay.

Copyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

10:55 a.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Madam Speaker, my hon. colleague and I have clashed many times over the years, and have talked many times.

I would like to at least thank him for ensuring that folks back home know that the New Democratic Party is not engaged in the kids in the sandbox routine on the copyright debate that the Liberals are engaged in.

This is serious business. Updating our copyright regime is serious business. We have to treat this with the importance that it deserves.

I did participate in all the hearings on Bill C-32 and we heard hundreds of witnesses. There was a wide-ranging set of views on this. We came again and again to certain technical problems with the bill that had to be fixed.

One of those key problems has to do with the issue of long distance education because in a digital realm we have such incredible opportunity to educate and to have cultural exchanges across this vast country of Canada. One of the technical problems in Bill C-32 is the obligation that class notes have to be destroyed after 30 days because they are transmitted through a digital format.

We think that will create a two-tier set of rights for education, one set of rights for students in a normal school and a lesser set of rights for students taking long distance education.

Will the government be willing to work with the New Democratic Party to fix that problematic area of this bill, so that we ensure that we get the maximum benefit of digital education for the vast regions of Canada?

Copyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

11 a.m.

Conservative

James Moore Conservative Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam, BC

Madam Speaker, I graduated university in 1999. The University of Northern British Columbia, which actually has satellite campuses on aboriginal reserves, was one of the first universities to engage in this kind of digital learning that my colleague is talking about. We certainly want to protect that kind of education.

The provision that the member refers to in this legislation was not arrived at by the government. It was arrived at after talking to educators, the council of ministers of education, which is every education minister in the country save for the province of Quebec, who offered this proposal that we have in this legislation that we think arrives at the right balance.

The reason for the 30-day limit, of course, is to protect those people, those professors and those educators who are involved in the publishing industry with regard to textbooks. We want to ensure that they will have a business and a business model.

This is the compromise that we have arrived at. We think it works. This provision along with the others with regard to fair dealing and education are the reason why the council of ministers of education across the country, including NDP, Liberal and Conservative education ministers, have endorsed this legislation as being what is best for education.

The member asked if we are prepared to work together. Certainly, this is why we tabled the same legislation as Bill C-32. We want to continue the study.

If my hon. colleague has an amendment he wants to draft and bring forward, we will consider that. We are not obtuse in the way that we are approaching this legislation. We have been open and transparent in the entire process of this bill, in the collection of information and feedback from Canadians from the beginning, through the committee process of the legislative committee, and now as we go forward with Bill C-11.

If my hon. colleague has an amendment that he has drafted and wants to talk about, our doors are open.

Copyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

11 a.m.

Liberal

Scott Simms Liberal Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor, NL

Madam Speaker, by way of illustration I just want to bring this subject up once again.

The problem with this bill is the give and take, the balance that the government is trying to achieve is not there. A good example would be if I had downloaded a digital book on my Kindle. All of a sudden I decide I am going to buy the new version of the iPad, so therefore I have to shift from one to the other.

Now there is a provision in this legislation that allows individuals to do that because it acknowledges the fact that it is their own property and they can shift it. However, because of the digital lock, they are no longer able to do that.

That one pulls against the other to the point where it is not a balance, it is a give and take.

The second point, is the government willing to listen to the witnesses who appeared during the special legislative committee on Bill C-32, the ones who already appeared—

Copyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

11 a.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

Order, please. I will have to give the hon. minister time to respond.

Copyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

11 a.m.

Conservative

James Moore Conservative Port Moody—Westwood—Port Coquitlam, BC

Madam Speaker, it is because we want to maintain the integrity of this process from the consultations in the beginning through the tabling of Bill C-32 and the tabling of Bill C-11, which is why we did not change anything in the bill.

We did that deliberately in order to protect the integrity of this process, so we could continue to have witnesses. Again, if witnesses want to come to the committee and offer ideas, we are more than open to it. This is why we have set up a legislative committee.

I am glad this member is interested in a serious approach to the legislation. I am very hopeful that this will continue on at the committee. We want to get this right. We want to get it done effectively. I am very thankful that the member for Timmins—James Bay and the member for Bonavista—Gander—Grand Falls—Windsor are digging into the substance of this bill, so that we can have a responsible debate, not some of the stuff we have heard in the past.

Copyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

11 a.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Madam Speaker, I am very honoured to rise on behalf of the New Democratic Party today representing the people of the great region of Timmins—James Bay. It is my honour every day to serve them, respect their issues as constituents and bring their concerns into this venerable House of debate and legislation.

Copyright is a crucial issue for Canadians. We need to move forward with a regime of copyright reform that will bring Canada into the 21st century.

The word “copyright”, the right to make a copy, was created out of English common law. I like the alternate emphasis in French law, which is “le droit d'auteur”, the right of the author. These are both very similar perspectives, but there is a different balance in the equilibrium of it. It respects an interesting balance of how we develop culture within Canada in terms of the right to make a copy. Who has the right to make a copy and profit from it? That is a “copy right” that goes back to the book wars of the 1700s and 1800s in England as to who actually could control a work and the right of authors to be remunerated for their work and to have some say as to how their work is exploited.

This is a debate that went on long before the digital age and the Internet. The balance of the right to make a copy is not a property right. It has been argued over the years, and copyright lobbyists today will talk about their property and their right to protect their property. They will say they want to put a lock on the door to keep people from going in or to make them pay to go in, and that it is their property.

However, it is not a piece of property. Creativity is not a piece of personal property. It has been defined in Parliament and the courts.

I refer back to the 1841 debates where Lord Macaulay, who was a writer himself who had been ripped off and plagiarized many times over the years, fought within the English Parliament to separate the idea that it was personal property that copyright was created to protect. Macaulay at that time imitated much of the modern debate. He even talked about the pirates of that generation, the “knaves who take the bread out of the mouths of deserving men”, the people who would unfairly infringe on the copyright of the author and not pay for it as they should.

At the same time, he also called copyright an evil. It is interesting that he said that. He called it a necessary evil. He said that copyright should only exist for a period to ensure the author was paid, but it could not be used to interfere with the larger development of society. He said that the creation of ideas is not something that can be compartmentalized: that when a work is created, it is brought into a larger frame. Parliamentarians around the world have been trying to find the balance between people's right of access to new ideas and the right of remuneration of the creator. Those are the two fundamental balances, and they are the balanced principles that the New Democratic Party has articulated throughout these debates for the last number of years. The two fundamental principles in the digital age are the same as they were back in the 1800s in the book wars: ease of access and the right to remuneration.

We talk about le droit d'auteur and copyright, but this bill does not deal with either of those rights. It is about corporate right, which is different from copyright. The fundamental problems with this bill are the provisions on digital locks, which I will get to in a moment, and the direct attack on the collective licensing regime that has existed for artists in Canada for the last number of decades. The right of artists to have remuneration for their copies is under direct attack in point after point in this bill. I will go through the areas wherein the right of artists to be paid is being taken away and replaced by a false right, which is the right to lock down content.

The Conservatives are good about locks. They understand prisons and locks. We heard the minister say the lock will restore the market. I spent many years in the music industry and I never met an artist could feed his or her family on a lock. They feed their families on the right they have as artists to be remunerated through their mechanical royalties, television rights and book rights, and they fight very hard for mechanical royalties. It is a small amount of return for their efforts, but that return is crucial, so when the government comes along and would strike out, as it does in this bill, the mechanical royalty rights that have been guaranteed under the Copyright Board of Canada, it is depriving artists of the millions of dollars that actually make it possible to carry on the works.

There is no balance there, and this is what we need to restore a good copyright regime in Canada: a balance of the rights of artists and the rights of access.

The New Democratic Party has spoken out time after time in this House on the need for a long-term digital strategy so that Canadians can fully participate as digital citizens in a digital public commons. A public commons is a place where people, not just from Canada but from around the world, can exchange ideas and art.

It is certainly fraught with many problems. We have seen that with downloading and with piracy, but it is essential for cultural development in the 21st century that Canada have a long-term digital strategy. We in the New Democratic Party see the need to codify net neutrality so that the large telecom giants and BDUs are not deciding for us what kind of content we can access.

We see establishing a national benchmark for broadband access, including in this latest spectrum auction. What provisions are there to ensure that the regions of rural Quebec and northern Alberta are given the same chance to develop in a digital economy as downtown Montreal or Vancouver? A broadband strategy that looks at the totality of our country is essential. This is the new national dream that we need to be pushing. We have heard dead silence over on the government benches in terms of a digital strategy for broadband, but for the New Democratic Party it is essential. We want to see within the programs of the Canadian government support for the enhancement of digital cultural products, because more products are moving away from the old models. Those old models worked well for us in the 1970s, but this is 2011, and we need to move toward that.

The other crucial element, which we have asked for again and again, is a copyright reform that will address the needs of Canadian consumers, artists and students in a digital realm.

Does this bill do that? No. In its present form, it does not.

What we need to do is to restore the balance. As it stands now, we cannot support this bill, but we are willing to work with the Conservative government to get this bill to committee. If we can make the vital technical changes to ensure that balance, then we are more than willing to bring our efforts as a party and to work with the government to ensure that this bill restores the balance.

I will grant that the government made efforts in Bill C-61, which was a dog's breakfast. Bill C-61 died as soon as it was born because it was the ugliest child of the backroom lobbyists, and they could never sell that publicly. Bill C-32 shows that it is obvious the Conservatives heard there were problems with Bill C-61, but we are not there yet. We have to see whether or not the government is willing to move forward.

I would like to talk about some of the major problems with this bill. There are three areas that are fundamentally flawed: the issue of the attack on collective licensing and the removal of artists' rights to be remunerated for their work, the issue of education, and the issue of digital locks.

I asked my hon. colleague, the heritage minister, about the fundamental problem with the education provisions, which is if students in Fort Albany on the James Bay coast want to take a college course, they would be obliged to burn their class notes after 30 days. As well, college professors who were teaching long-distance education courses to students in northern Canada would have to destroy all their class notes after 30 days because that is an infringement on copyright.

That requirement would mean the creation of a modern book-burning regime. As well, we would see the creation of a two-tier set of rights. There is one set of rights in the analog and paper world that would allow students going to school in Toronto to keep their class notes. Those class notes are important, because year after year students keep them to build a body of work towards getting their degree. However, students on a northern reserve trying to get long-distance learning do not have that same set of rights. They have a lesser set of rights.

I was absolutely shocked to hear from my hon. colleague, the heritage minister, where this crazy idea of modern book-burning had come from, this idea that after 30 days students would not have the right to their own class notes. He said it had come from the ministers of education.

I have met with the ministers of education many times, as well as people throughout the education sector, and I have never heard anyone say that the best idea for the digital development of Canadians is to make kids or adults going back to school burn their notes after 30 days.

That provision is unacceptable. It is backward thinking and it is needless. It is not protecting any business model, but it would have a major detrimental effect, so in terms of education, that provision has to go.

In terms of the digital locks, there is an important right of creators to protect their work. We can think of the amazing work of the gaming industry in Canada, particularly in Montreal, and the millions of dollars that have been invested in creating the games that people all over the world play. We want to make sure those products are not ripped off in their entirety and that business model made to disappear, so there is a provision for digital locks to protect those works.

However, the digital lock cannot override the rights that Parliament guarantees.

This legislation is going to create certain rights. An example is the right to extract the work for satire, parody, or political commentary. We all support that right, yet if there is a digital lock, we would not have that right. We have the right to access a work and move it into a new format; we are told we can do that, but if there is a digital lock on it, we cannot.

My colleague, the heritage minister, said that if we do not like the lock, then we do not have to buy the product. That is kind of a bullish way of talking. I wonder if this guy has lived in the digital world at all. How many times do people buy a product in a store? They will get it online, so if we make restrictive provisions with digital locks, people will just bypass them. That is problematic.

It is important that Canadians believe in the copyright regime, because the copyright regime is fundamental to creating a strong economy and a strong creative community. However, I would say there is not a six-year-old kid in this country who does not know how to break a digital lock, and people would break them with impunity. Should they be criminalized for that? I do not think so.

We need to look at why Canada is putting restrictive digital lock provisions in place. Under the U.S. DMCA, which is the most backward-looking copyright legislation on the planet, even the Americans have recognized the right to extract certain works.

I will give an example to show just how boneheaded the digital lock provisions are. If a journalist on the evening news wanted to show an excerpt from a movie that was being discussed or debated, the journalist would not be able to show that excerpt because he or she would have to break the digital lock to do it. The journalist would have to show a picture of the screen. Can anyone explain to me how having a shot of the screen somehow protects the copyright and the artist when a journalist is trying to extract it for a program?

It is the same with the documentary film producers. The documentary film community is very concerned about the digital lock provisions, because they would impede their ability to extract, which is their legal right under the bill. They have all those legal rights, but if a digital lock is placed on it, they would no longer have those rights.

The government is saying that the legislation of Canada should allow U.S. multinational corporate interests to decide what rights we have. If they decide we have no rights, then we have no rights. It does not matter what the bill says or what the House of Commons says; the government is saying that it would hand over all those rights to corporate interests. That is fundamentally wrong, and it is flawed.

It is also flawed in terms of our obligations under the WIPO treaties. We are signatories to international conventions about intellectual property and we can look at how other countries have dealt with the digital lock provisions. In particular, as I said earlier, sections 10 and 11 of the WIPO copyright treaty states clearly that limitations to technological protection measures may be supported as long as they “do not conflict with a normal exploitation of the work”. That is within the WIPO treaty.

I remember that my Conservative colleagues used to always say that they had to put the digital lock provisions on to be WIPO compliant. However, WIPO itself is saying that countries could decide what those exemptions and limitations are, the limitations being the technological protection measures and the exemptions being the rights that consumers and students should be able to employ.

All those rights are erased under this, so it actually puts us at a disadvantage in comparison to many of our European competitors, which have much more nuanced provisions when it comes to the digital lock provisions.

As it stands now, we have asked a fairly straightforward question on whether the government would be willing to work with us to amend the digital lock provisions to ensure that the normal rights that Canadians should legally be able to access would not be overridden by corporate rights. It has said no. Unless the digital lock provisions change, the New Democratic Party will not support the bill because it is not balanced.

We need to change the education provisions. We need to change the digital lock provisions. We also need to change the issue that the bill, time and time again, attacks the existing collective royalty rights of Canadian artists and that will not build the kind of cultural regime that we need in our country.

We have come through some of the most bizarre copyright wars of recent memory. In the United States we have seen the $30,000 to $50,000-plus lawsuits against kids. The large Sony, Warner, EMI companies are going after kids who download Hannah Montana songs, hitting them up with million dollar lawsuits. We have seen what is called the John Doe mass lawsuits, extending across the United States and moving into Canada, if individuals downloaded the movie Hurt Locker. Mass emails are being sent, suing people based on their IP addresses.

That model of attacking consumers is probably the most dead-end business model on the planet. I was so pleased to hear Canadian artists, all the great Canadian groups that came together under the Creative Music Coalition, say that they did not sue their fans, that their fans were what made them survive. The American model of suing kids, grandmothers and even dead people for copyright infringement is a dead-end model.

We have heard all this talk about piracy and the pirate bays. It is interesting that the very first pirate bay was in Los Angeles. We think Hollywood is the natural place to make movies, but it is not. Why, in God's name, when the vast majority of the U.S. population lives on the eastern seaboard, would filmmakers go to the dessert outside Hollywood to make films? It was because they were escaping the copyright rules of the day. They could not make movies in the eastern United States because Edison controlled the copyright on the camera. However, there was not the same copyright rules in California, so Hollywood was the original pirate bay.

It went on through the years when the VHS came out. Jack Valenti, the defender of the Hollywood industry, called the VHS the Boston strangler of movies and begged Congress to shut it down, to make it illegal because VHS was a threat.

The big pirate company at that time was Sony, which is suing people all over the planet for corporate infringement now, because it had created the VHS player with the record button.

At that time there was a big corporate fight and everybody said that the VHS would destroy Hollywood. However, as you know, Madam Speaker, and you are very young but you were probably right in your prime when the VHS came out, people started to rent movies, something they would never have thought about before because they would go to the theatre. Now they were able to rent movies, so this pirate activity, which Hollywood tried to shut down, became such a lucrative new business that it did not have to bother releasing movies to theatres. It could just release it to VHS and eventually on to DVD.

Copyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

11:15 a.m.

Liberal

Scott Andrews Liberal Avalon, NL

The Beta player.

Copyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

11:15 a.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Yes, the Beta player and how it was shut down. I ask the hon. member not to intervene in this until we talk about the Beta player.

Let us look at the recording business. In 1906 the musicians in the United States tried to make the roller piano illegal. They thought the roller piano would make it irrelevant to hire musicians so they said that mechanical music was a threat to musicians. Who did not side with them? The American Music Publishers Association did not support the musicians. It figured the more roller pianos sold, the more copyright it would make on the actual sheet music. Therefore, the roller piano was made legal. In the 1920s the recording industry tried to shut down radio because radio was not paying royalties. In each area along the way the problem was the need to find a monetization stream.

The fight in the digital age is no different than it was in 1928 when the royalties of artists dropped over 80% in the recording business because radio was the Napster of the day. It found a monetization stream. We are asking the government to work with us on a monetization stream for artists and unless we find that, we will be at the copyright wars for decades to come.

Copyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

11:20 a.m.

Liberal

Geoff Regan Liberal Halifax West, NS

Madam Speaker, I enjoyed my hon. colleague's line that suing dead people is a dead end.

He spoke about digital locks. With this bill, the government wants to impose a system on Canadians that is stricter than the systems in the United States or the United Kingdom. I find that troubling.

He also talked about the loss of the collector for royalty rights. Would he speak further about the impact on artists of the locks and what his solution to that would be?

Copyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Madam Speaker, it is interesting that the Conservative government has even tried to outdo the United States in terms of the digital lock provisions. The digital lock provisions under the DMCA have been reviewed in court. It has found that American citizens do have the right to extract works under certain circumstances.

However, what is also interesting is that we are being fed this fiction by the Conservatives that the music and film industries, that everything will come back if we make digital locks sacrosanct, but we have not seen that in any other jurisdiction. The need to create a monetization stream for artists remains. A digital lock is not a business model. It can be part of a business model, but it is not one in itself. The digital lock cannot replace the remuneration rights of artists.

Let us talk about where the government is attacking collective licensing rights.

Canada created one of the great compromises in the 1980s and 1990s with the private copying regime. It put a small amount of money on every copy, on tapes and then later on CDs that went into a fund for artists because we recognized that people were copying and artists needed some form of royalty. That created a royalty revenue of $25 million to $30 million a year for Canadian artists. That is not chump change, not in the kind of industry we are in right now, where the recording industry has suffered time and time again and artists can count on those royalties. We have done away with extending the private copying levy to the digital realm. We have attacked the mechanical royalties which are $8 million to $12 million a year. Again, that is serious money for Canadian artists.

It is bizarre that a government would announce a right that existed defined by the Copyright Board no longer exists. Artists do not have a right to get paid for their work, end of story, live with the digital locks. That is not a reasonable solution for Canadian artists.

Copyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Glenn Thibeault NDP Sudbury, ON

Madam Speaker, I thank my hon. colleague from Timmins—James Bay for his tireless work on this file. One of the things that my colleague and I share is we both come from northern Ontario. In my riding Laurentian University, Cambrian College and Collège Boréal provide distance education throughout the north. I know my colleague's riding is the size of Great Britain and Northern College also has to provide distance education to our communities throughout the north.

Digital locks and their impacts on the education component are worrying for those of us who happen to live in northern parts of Ontario, Alberta, Saskatchewan or Quebec. Would the hon. member comment on how the potential of digital locks on the education component will affect northern and rural communities?

Copyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

11:25 a.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Madam Speaker, what is not said here is the obligation, as an example, that Collège Boréal, in terms of doing outreach to small, isolated francophone communities in northern Ontario, will need to put a digital lock on its lessons. How will it go to Raymore, or Moonbeam, or Elk Lake and kick down the doors of the students, pull out their notes and ensure they are burned at the end of the class? There needs to be this in the digital realm. Schools will have to put locks on lessons.

We would be telling northern colleges that are serving communities like the Cree communities of the James Bay area or the isolated Franco-Ontarian communities that before they even get to teaching the students long distance learning, they will have to be locks on everything that makes lessons go up in smoke after 30 days. That will make it very difficult to administer long-term education long distance.

It is also the same problem that libraries are facing by insisting that they put on digital locks. It is easy for Warner Bros. to put on digital locks, but it is not so easy for a small northern library or college that wants to share in the incredible potential of education. Therefore, the digital lock provisions are regressive. They are not 21st century models. I do not even know if they are 19th century models.

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11:25 a.m.

Blackstrap Saskatchewan

Conservative

Lynne Yelich ConservativeMinister of State (Western Economic Diversification)

Madam Speaker, the Canadian Anti-Counterfeiting Network congratulated the government for protecting copyright holders. It said:

We're pleased that the government is committed to getting tough on IP crimes...Piracy is a massive problem in Canada which has a tangible economic impact on government revenue, legitimate retailers, rights holders and consumers. It's extremely difficult for legitimate retailers to compete with those who...steal and rip [with no abandon].

The copyright modernization act recognizes that the most effective way to stop online infringement of copyright is to target those who enable and profit from the infringements of others. The new provision supplements the existing criminal punishments for those who aid and abet infringement.

Does the hon. member agree with the importance of ensuring that copyright owners are able to pursue the enablers in order to support the development of significant legitimate markets for downloading and streamlining in Canada?

Copyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

11:30 a.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Madam Speaker, that is a very interesting question. Certainly, the New Democratic Party has been very clear in our opposition that online piracy is undermining artists. However, I find it interesting that she talked about Canada as a piracy haven. It seems to be very similar language in the very recent WikiLeaks disclosure, that the then industry minister, now the notorious minister from Muskoka, actually met with U.S. officials and suggested it put Canada on the notorious 301 piracy watch list.

For those at home who do not know what the piracy watch list is, it is where North Korea and Yemen are put. Yet a representative of the Canadian government got it into his head that it would be a bright idea to tarnish Canada's international trade reputation by suggesting the United States put us on the international watch list of piracy terror states because it would help pass the bill. I find it staggering that we have a government that will not stand up to U.S. corporate interests and will not stand up for what Canada has done in dealing with piracy.

The former industry minister got it into his head that it was a bright idea to put us on this discredited watch list, despite the fact that the software retailers, and every other major international organization that watched the U.S. piracy watch list, said that it was absurd to put Canada on the list. It was probably as absurd as the same guy getting $50 million in border infrastructure money and blowing it on gazebos in his riding. How did this guy get a job?

Copyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

11:30 a.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Green Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Madam Speaker, the hon. member for Timmins—James Bay has been a long champion on this issue. Perhaps in this session of Parliament we will see changes made to address the concerns.

The Minister of Canadian Heritage has told us he is open to change. I am certainly very concerned with the concerns of the Canadian Library Association that digital locks will impede its ability to use materials in the public interest.

Would the member for Timmins—James Bay agree with the library association that perhaps adding the words “for an infringing use” to qualify this requirement of a digital lock would have any effect in making the legislation less egregious?

Copyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

11:30 a.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

Madam Speaker, certainly the position in the New Democratic Party is that the bill is highly problematic. However, we believe in updating the copyright regime and we believe it is possible with amending language.

For example, the concerns of Canadian librarians were not heard by the government, but it is possible to find amending language to ensure that we would differentiate between what would be done for infringing purposes and what would be done in order to allow people the education opportunities that exist in the digital realm. We saw it done with the other WIPO compliant countries.

If the government is not willing to come to those reasonable balanced compromises, then Bill C-11 will not be balanced. It will be detrimental to Canadian artists, consumers, students and educators.

We are more than willing to bring forward the amending language that will fix the problems of the bill. The problems are many, but they can be fixed. What it will take is whether there is good will on the part of the government to step back a bit and say that it has come so far down the road, that it did not get it right, so we should work together. It is not in the interests of the Canadian Parliament to delay copyright legislation. It is not in the interests of Canadian Parliament not to move forward with copyright. HOwever, it is definitely not in the interests of the Canadian Parliament to move forward with a bill that is fundamentally flawed.

Copyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

11:30 a.m.

Liberal

Geoff Regan Liberal Halifax West, NS

Madam Speaker, I am very pleased and honoured to stand today in this debate on Bill C-11 on behalf of the Liberal Party and on behalf of my constituents in the great riding of Halifax West.

It is disappointing that the Minister of Industry and the Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages do not appear to be interested in listening to this debate.

What we see in Bill C-11 is, as Yogi Berra said, “This is like déjà vu all over again”. In fact, this reminds of another Yogi Berraism. When he was asked about going to Coney Island, he said, “Nobody goes there anymore. It's too crowded”.

This is the same kind of logic that we find in the government's approach to this bill. The new copyright bill, Bill C-11, is a carbon copy of the old copyright bill, Bill C-32. It has the same ideologically driven principles and it has the same flaws and omissions. It has the same, as my hon. colleague from Timmins—James Bay was just saying, American-influenced digital lock provisions.

However, the Liberals recognize that there is a need to modernize the Copyright Act. We also recognize the need to protect artists, creators, educators and consumers. We recognize the need for balanced legislation. We think it is important to have copyright rules that are fair and balanced.

Instead of that, today we have before us a recycled bill that includes some of the most restrictive digital lock provisions in the world. This is, in fact, an approach that Michael Geist, who is the Canada Research Chair of Internet and E-commerce Law at the University of Ottawa, correctly points out is all about satisfying U.S. interests.

I was pleased to see this morning that he actually wrote on his blog today. He states:

The Liberal position is consistent with Bill C-60, their 2005 copyright bill that linked the digital lock rules to actual copyright infringement and did not establish a ban on the tools that can be used to circumvent digital locks.

Clearly, this renowned expert on copyright, the Internet and e-commerce is saying that our approach is one that makes sense and is consistent.

In view of those concerns, the Liberal Party will not support Bill C-11. The digital lock provisions in this bill are far too strict and they override virtually every other right that is in the legislation.

These provisions, for example, make it illegal for a mom to move a movie from her DVD to her iPad or Playbook so that her kids can watch it during a long car trip.

These provisions will make it illegal for Canadians to transfer a movie from a DVD to their iPad or PlayBook so that their kids can watch it during a long car trip, because bypassing the DVD protection measures would lead to a $5,000 lawsuit. That is appalling.

I will take the case of a visually impaired student. If that student needs to shift the format of a digital text so he can read it but finds protection measures on the source material, he would not be able to read it unless he breaks the law. How can that possibly be considered a fair and balanced approach? In fact, it is the opposite of fair and balanced.

I know many of my colleagues across the way do not believe their tough on crime agenda means going after busy moms or students with disabilities, but they should actually consider the implications of this bill because that is exactly what they are doing with this bill.

This morning, the Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages actually claimed that he and the government have the support of the Council of Ministers of Education Canada for the this bill. However, this is what the council actually said, “Much like many other education groups, provincial ministers agree that the digital lock provisions are too restrictive”.

The minister seems to interpret that as support, which is a strange interpretation in my view.

The Liberals are strongly opposed to a government that seeks to make it illegal for ordinary Canadians to exercise their rights to view material they have legally purchased in the format they choose. This is about whether people can change something. If people have a CD they have paid for and they want to transfer the music from their CD to their iPod or, perhaps, to their Blackberry, they want the ability to do that. What the government is saying is that they can do that. It wants Canadians to believe they can do that. However, the government is also saying that it is giving us that right but that it is taking it away because it has put a digital lock on it and we cannot. It is a contradictory position.

Other countries have managed to fulfill their international WIPO treaty obligations without having to implement such strict digital lock provisions. So why would Canada go well beyond what is expected of it? The answer is clear. This bill was drafted for the purpose of meeting the demands of the United States instead of meeting the needs of Canadians and standing up for their interests.

Diplomatic cables, recently released through WikiLeaks, have revealed that much of the bill was drafted specifically to meet American expectations in terms of the digital lock provisions. I find that quite shocking and disturbing. It is not about what is in the interests of Canadians but what is in the interest of some U.S. interests. The Conservatives even offered to provide the United States government with an advance copy of the bill before the Parliament of Canada was allowed to read it.

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11:40 a.m.

Judy Sgro

Shame.

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11:40 a.m.

Liberal

Geoff Regan Liberal Halifax West, NS

That is shameful. It is hard to imagine that could happen. Surely, the Conservatives would have more respect for Parliament and for the House of Commons than to offer it to a foreign government before tabling it here and making it available for members and for Canadians to examine.

Worse than that, the cables revealed that the Conservatives actually asked the United States to place Canada on the United States trade representatives' piracy watch list. They wanted to scare Canadians into supporting this copyright bill. Talk about a regressive, recidivist, bizarre way to approach this. Ten days after the Conservatives made the request, the U.S. was only too happy to oblige them. Naturally. It is no surprise that they went along fully.

The irony of all this, of course, is that the U.S. is now loosening up its own provisions on digital locks. During the last review of the American circumvention rules, it significantly loosened them up. While it is now legal in the U.S. to circumvent a protection measure to create a mash-up for YouTube, in Canada it is going to be illegal, thanks to the government. Can anyone Imagine that? The Conservatives talk about this being balanced, fair and a modern copyright law. This is regressive.

While the Bush White House had a direct line into the Prime Minister's Office, the opinions and advice of Canadian stakeholders, Canadian citizens and Canadian experts fell on deaf ears.

During the 40th Parliament, a special legislative committee on the copyright bill heard from 142 witnesses and it received 167 submissions. That is a lot of input. As members of Parliament, we also received comments from thousands of Canadians. In fact, yesterday alone, my office received nearly 3,000 emails on this one subject. Canadians are concerned about this and have made lots of comments but the government is not listening.

Much of what the committee heard last winter and spring made a lot of sense. Instead of listening, instead of saying that they heard what the witnesses were saying and that they would make some changes, the Conservatives chose to table the exact same bill with the identical wording. There was not a comma change, a period change or a letter moved in the bill except for perhaps the numbering now because it is a new Parliament.

The heritage minister has said publicly that he will not accept any changes. Today, he seems to be singing a bit of a different tune but we will have to wait and see if that is true. His handlers in the Prime Minister's Office have let it be known that they do not even want full hearings on the bill. They do not want members of the House, many of whom are new to the House, to hear from different witnesses and to have the opportunity for a full debate on the bill. I hope not, but perhaps we can expect to see today what we have seen in the last few weeks from the government on every major bill so far, and that is it using closure to move it quickly forward and to ram it through the House. Because of this heavy-handed approach, the undue American influence and the government's unyielding and misguided stance on digital locks, the Liberals have no choice, in our view, but to vote against Bill C-11.

A central concern heard at previous committee hearings was how the expansion of fair dealing into areas such as education would affect artists and creators. Many authors explained repeatedly that the changes in the bill would significantly affect their business models, and that is an important concern for us. However, in Bill C-11 we see no attempt to improve the definitions of fair dealing or provide any kind of certainty to these authors.

Finally, the Liberal Party continues to believe that artists and creators deserve transitional funding in order to cope with the effects this bill would have on their revenue streams. For instance, by no longer allowing creators to charge for ephemeral recordings, artists will lose a revenue stream of roughly $8 million a year. We believe the government should provide some transitional assistance to help artists adjust to the new reality. That is why we proposed in the last election a fund to compensate artists.

Many members will be aware that in the past there was a levy on blank cassettes and CDs. At one point that levy was producing revenue of $27.7 million for Canadian artists, and that was a very important revenue stream for them. Unfortunately, over time things change and people are not using as many cassettes or that many blank CDs and, therefore, the revenue has gone down to about $8.8 million a year. That is a dramatic drop for the artists who were relying on that. It seems to me that the government ought to be recognizing this and trying to find a way to respond to it, but it does not seem interested. It does not seem to have any concern for the impact this is having and we should be concerned.

As a result of the many problems in the bill, particularly the fact that the government has demonstrated that, after hearing 142 witnesses, reading 163 submissions and hearing from thousands of Canadians commenting on it online, in emails and so forth, it does not feel the need for any changes whatsoever, I want to bring forward the following amendment. I move:

That the motion be amended by deleting all of the words after the word “That” and submitting the following:

“this House declines to give second reading to Bill C-11, An Act to amend the Copyright Act, because it fails to:

(a) uphold the rights of consumers to choose how to enjoy the content that they purchase through overly-restrictive digital lock provisions;

(b) include a clear and strict test for “fair dealing” for education purposes; and

(c) provide any transitional funding to help artists adapt to the loss of revenue streams that the Bill would cause.

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11:45 a.m.

NDP

The Deputy Speaker NDP Denise Savoie

The amendment is in order.

Questions and comments. The hon. Minister of State for Western Economic Diversification.

Copyright Modernization ActGovernment Orders

11:50 a.m.

Blackstrap Saskatchewan

Conservative

Lynne Yelich ConservativeMinister of State (Western Economic Diversification)

Madam Speaker, I want to comment on a setback if we do not pass this bill to modernize our legislation.

The Liberals want to concentrate on how important it is to modernize the law but they are not paying attention to some of the good things the bill would accomplish. For example, the bill would legalize the export of works by an author or a Canadian citizen of the country of import and would be subject to payment of royalty that may be set out in the regulations. Does the member support this provision that would pertain to the export of materials adapted for the perceptually disabled, including Braille and audio books? The member had talked about how this would not help the disabled community. This particular bill addresses areas of Braille and the perceptually disabled.

Did the member say that he had received 3,000 emails in one day on this particular issue? What part of the bill did those 3,000 people specifically zero in on? I would like clarification on the 3,000 in one day, please.